Here at CyclingTips we’ve been following the story of the court case between Paul Kimmage and former UCI president Hein Verbruggen with interest. This morning I received an email from Mr. Verbruggen asking us to give him the right of reply regarding an article we published last week that he felt was not objective. Here is what Mr Verbruggen had to say and his version of the events (unedited). -Wade Wallace
by Hein Verbruggen
After the hearing at the Vevey court on Wednesday, 8 July, Mr Kimmage made some statements to the press.
I did not intend to do that as I refrain from making public comments on a case that is in the hands of the court.
Yet I feel that I must make an exception now in order to correct the serious misinformation contained in the articles that quote Mr Kimmage.
Mr Kimmage presents things as if I were after him, wanted to shut him up, picked him out as a random victim to warn his colleagues of the press, destroyed his life, etc.
This is not true.
As all his colleagues Mr Kimmage had the opportunity to comment and to criticize my person and my presidency of the UCI. He did so many years and he is free to do that. I have no problem with that.
I took him to court not because of his criticism but because he accused me of corruption, complicity with doping and tolerance of doping. This is not criticism but slander, an unlawful violation of my personality rights that I don’t have to tolerate and that I will not tolerate.
Mr Kimmage cannot write anything he thinks he can write: if ethics and common sense fail, there is at least the law that draws a line in order to protect people against false accusations.
I would have thought that a journalist does not need the law for that and always tries to write the truth, and checks and double-checks before publication.
This Mr Kimmage failed to do: he can write that in his opinion I am the worst sports administrator in history, but not that I am corrupt or accomplice to doping, as this is not true .
When Mr Dick Pound made similar statements, I took him to court and he retracted. When Floyd Landis made similar statements, I took him to court and the court upheld my claim. To the extent that Landis was blowing the whistle on Armstrong and his team, the investigation was referred to USADA.
I did the same with Mr Kimmage: he cannot say that I picked him out as he is not the first one. He cannot say that it was just about making an example of one person who was blowing the whistle, as it is about false statements he made.
On the other hand Mr Kimmage was the only one to file a criminal complaint against me, in November 2012. The complaint was dismissed by the public prosecutor and, on appeal by Mr Kimmage, also by the court.
According to the article in CyclingTips of 9 July Mr Kimmage stated that at the court hearing I wanted an apology and an assurance that he won’t write about me again.
This is not correct. I didn’t want any of these: no excuses, no limit on Mr Kimmage’s freedom as a journalist with respect for the law. I just want that false statements are dropped.
Mr Kimmage is very emotional about this. At the very first moment he saw me at the court he reacted aggressively and insulted me in terms that are really not fit to be repeated here.
Also in the press article he is both emotional and aggressive: « it is going to be a long and bloody battle », Mr Kimmage is quoted.
I fail to see why a journalist would prefer a long and bloody battle to the recognition of the facts: it amounts to a long and bloody battle against the truth.
Mr Kimmage submitted the CIRC report to the Court. This report has been made public and it might be interesting to look at the following quotes (almost never found in the press):
« On the basis of the information in its possession, the CIRC can conclude that Lance Armstrong did not test positive for EPO or any other doping substance during the 2001 Tour de Suisse. (page 165)
CIRC has not found any indication of a financial agreement between Lance Armstrong and Hein Verbruggen or, as would follow from the absence of evidence of a positive test, of any attempts by UCI to conceal a positive test by Lance Armstrong at the 2001 Tour de Suisse. » (page 165)
« CIRC has not found any evidence of corruption in relation to a positive test by Lance Armstrong during the Tour de Suisse in 2001 » (page 166)
« Lance Armstrong was of course entitled to the benefit of the fundamental principle of the presumption of innocence, and it is true that the was subject to extensive testing by the various anti-doping agencies » (page 192)
« UCI did not try to prevent Lance Armstrong from being tested on numerous occasions » (page 197)
« The UCI has repeatedly been the target of criticism with regards to doping. There may be justification for this, but it is also clear that, despite obvious failings and errors, UCI has also been a pioneer in the field of anti-doping ». (page 96)
« Credit must be given to the UCI insofar as it was at the forefront when introducing new testing techniques » (page 132)
« UCI was and is responsive to new analysis techniques available in the laboratories. Furthermore, UCI also provides doping relevant information to the laboratories and shares information on anti-doping activities with the laboratories through international scientific journals as well as workshops ». (page 132)………
There are other similar quotes. Of course there is a lot of criticism in the CIRC report too, but it does not concern Mr Kimmage’s accusations for which I took him to court. Besides I do contest the report in detail on my website www.verbruggen.ch.
I would have thought that the above quotes from the CIRC report confirm that there is no reason for a long and bloody battle and that this report would have facilitated an amicable settlement.
« I do want to win this, I really do want to win this », Mr Kimmage is quoted. It is Mr Kimmage’s right to want to win the battle. The judge will decide.
What concerns me is Mr Kimmage’s unrelenting agressivity towards my person : the long and bloody battle seems to become a leitmotiv by itself, regardless of the subject matter of the case.
Some, including some press, may like this. Yet I do not wish that to Mr Kimmage.
— Hein Verbruggen